The vitamins and minerals men need in a healthy diet

Are you getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet? If your idea of a 7-course meal is a burger and a six pack, you may want to read on!

With a focus on Men’s Health this week as part of International Men’s Health Week we want to help you change your mindset so you are grabbing foods with macro-nutrients that will help you stay on top of your health. So let’s start adding in these foods to your diet for optimum health.

What are macro-nutrients?

They are the protein, carbohydrates, and fat required in larger amounts by the body in comparison to micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals.

Unless you’re involved in a particular fitness training regime, macro-nutrient needs are similar for men and women; 15% of our daily caloric intake should come from protein; 30-35% from healthy fats; and 45-65% from carbohydrates, preferably complex carbohydrates. The main difference: women require more iron during child-bearing years.

What are healthy fats and complex carbohydrates?

Cut down on the saturated fats (namely from animal sources), and completely cut out trans fats! Replace with healthy omega-3 fatty acids from cold, small, wild caught fish, such as mackerel, sardines, herring, salmon; flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great vegetarian sources of this heart healthy fat. Salmon burger anyone?

Complex carbohydrates have a low GI (glycemic index) rating, meaning, these foods are higher in fibre and don’t cause large fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Healthy examples include oats, buckwheat, quinoa, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. High GI foods/drinks (which is what you want to avoid) include popcorn, potato chips, and soda pop – all the essentials for watching the big game! Maybe sweet potato fries will do?

There are some important vitamins and minerals for men so consider eating these food regularly:

Vitamin D: Men need enough vitamin D to produce testosterone; found in foods such as eggs, cold water, wild caught fish, mushrooms, grass-fed butter – exposure to sunlight also helps.

Zinc: Zinc is important for men because of its role in prostate health; zinc rich foods include pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, lamb, and chicken.

Selenium: Necessary for healthy sperm, it also supports heart health and prevents cognitive decline; foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, turkey, chicken, brown rice, pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, and sunflower seeds.
With a change in mindset, it’s easy to make healthy food choices that are convenient and provide your body with optimal nutrient levels.

Start to make these changes as you transition to a healthier diet:

• Eat plenty of fresh vegetables of different types and colours
• Enjoy fresh
• Opt for whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, and barley; avoid processed grain products.
• Consume lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, fish, grass-fed beef, and eggs
• Drink plenty of water (30 ml per kg of body weight is recommended as a baseline)
• Limit your intake of processed foods and foods high in sugar.

Of course, regular exercise goes hand in hand with healthy eating. Physical activity has shown to be protective for our long-term health, for both women and men.

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2018). Nutrition for young men. www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/nutrition-for-young-men.

Complementary Medicines Australia (2018). Nutrition tips for men.  www.alive.com/health/nutrition-tips-for-men/

Dietetics Association of Australia (2018). Nutrition for men. https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/nutrition-for-men/

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